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Widespread illegal and unreported fish discards by EU fleet exacerbates overfishing

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | February 14, 2020
Reacting to reports published by the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) which document a high level of illegal and unreported discarding of fish from EU fleets in the North Sea and North East Atlantic, Our Fish yesterday called for Members of the European Parliament and Member State governments to support EFCA’s call for Remote Electronic Monitoring systems onboard EU vessels to improve data collection and ensure compliance on sea.
Rebecca Hubbard
Fish in the EU   Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard
“The EFCA reports expose widespread illegal and unreported catches in EU waters.

Topics: Fish overfishing

“It is unacceptable that this be allowed to continue by EU member states because it exacerbates overfishing, undermines scientific data and fisheries management, and threatens the EU’s international reputation for responsible ocean governance,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Our Fish Programme Director.

“The EU must introduce Remote Electronic Monitoring systems, including cameras onboard vessels, through the revision of the Control Regulation to ensure all catches are accurately reported and to curtail widespread illegal behaviour in EU waters”.

The Control Regulation is the EU’s system for ensuring that the rules of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy are complied with.

The Commission has proposed a revision of the Control Regulation, which is currently being considered by the European Parliament and EU Member States.

Among other things, the revision seeks to improve the EU’s ability to monitor illegal discarding beyond traditional methods (e.g.

aerial surveillance, inspections at sea or at landing) by using on board Remote Electronic Monitoring technology (REM) incorporating closed circuit television (CCTV) to deter illegal discarding.

“The ongoing failure to report all catches and discards by EU fleets increases the likelihood of overfishing, and for key fish populations such as North Sea cod that are already vulnerable and overfished, their plight is further exacerbated,” said Hubbard.

“EFCA, as an independent agency, works for an even playing field across Europe, and they have clearly concluded that Remote Electronic Monitoring systems and onboard CCTV is needed to improve fisheries catch data and ensure compliance at sea”.

“The EU takes a strong public stance against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing internationally, yet allowing EU Member State fleets to continue to act outside the law without sanction undermines both the EU’s reputation and global ambitions.”

“The EU cannot claim to address the biodiversity and climate crisis while illegal and unreported fishing continues to devastate our marine ecosystems.

“In light of the environmental crisis we are facing, parts of the fishing industry can no longer act with impunity.

“EU governments must prioritise European funds for improving monitoring and enforcement of the rules designed to sustain our fisheries, protect our ocean ecosystems and deliver natural climate solutions.”